Plyometrics are exercises, which when performed build explosive power in the body. Athletes use this form of training to improve on their specific skill, but any fitness trainer can use plyometric training to build power through their muscles. Throughout these movements, muscles are tensed and then contracted rapidly, using the elasticity and strength of the muscles and its surrounding tissue to throw farther, jump higher, hit harder, or run faster, dependent on the training goal desired.
Plyometric training increases the force or speed of muscular contractions. Examples of plyometric training include the burpee press-up: Up upright position, fall into press-up position, perform a press-up, jump into a squat thrust, and then perform a jump. That is one rep. The clap press-up is another or a jump squat. They work the whole body and help to build stamina and explosive strength in the muscles. They are an alternate form of bodyweight training and are fantastic for toning the body and pushing the body that little bit further.
Plyometric training prepares the nerve cells and toughens tissue to fire up a pattern of specific muscle contractions in the shortest period of time. Firstly, the muscle contraction is lengthened and then rested, then the muscle undergoes an explosive shortening movement, which allows the muscles to mould together to perform that particular motion. This form of training stimulates the nerve receptors, or myostatic-reflex – automatic muscle contractions.
Plyometric training is tough, but it helps to develop power in the muscles over a short period. Although most resistance training is performed to build strength, plyometric training uses the tendons, muscles, and nerves to increase power in the body.
Muscular power can be determined by the length of time it takes for strength and power to convert into speed. When strength is converted to speed in a short period of time, it allows the body to perform athletic movements which are beyond what untrained strength allows. A concentric contraction is a shortened muscle movement. Under concentric contractions, a muscle can only undergo a maximum sum of force. However, eccentric contraction takes place when a muscle is lengthened while tensed prior to the contraction; a greater force is produced due to the elastic energy that has been stored in the body. This release of energy disperses rapidly, so each concentric contraction must follow the eccentric contraction rapidly.
Plyometric exercises performed more than four times per week can cause a muscular deterioration if sufficient rest and nutrition is not given to the body. Repetitive use of plyometric training improves the efficiency of the neuromuscular links between muscle and brain. The right balance of plyometric training should be used in order to build power and strength in the body, so any trainer must check the number of reps they perform (75-100 reps) and the number of times they train with plyometrics over the space of a week.
The only downside to plyometrics is the risk of injury to the muscles through performance and training. Anyone who decides to undertake plyometric training should perform their research, watch videos on the correct form of movements, or ask someone to supervise you. It is important to stretch the muscles beforehand, and ensure you have the right coordination, agility, and balance which plyometric training requires. Performing this training on the right surface is important. Grass is ideal, as it a gym mat. Concrete should be avoided, as it is tough on the joints. Select the most appropriate plyometric exercises for your form. If you are muscular but weigh over 250 pounds, be careful with some of the plyometric exercises; or rather stick to the low intensity ones. Technique is important with plyometric training as it works the core, which must be engaged at all times. The body should be free of injury and well rested.